Never indeed is hatred pacified by hatred;
It will only be pacified by non-hatred – this is an eternal truth
A simple truth, an eternal truth, yet we often miss this.
We make hue and cry, “He abused me, he beat me, he defeated me, he robbed me”. Then we retaliate. We try to set right hatred with hatred. Tit for tat. Misleading texts describe hateful retaliation as bravery. It is like trying to put off fire with fire.
Look around. Is there a single instant in the entire history of humanity where hatred cancelled hatred causing peace to bloom? No. When someone settles score with his enemy, the enemy gets even more angry and retaliates back. This goes on in an endless loop giving solace to none. People fight. Religions fight. Nations fight. At best there is the peace of a cold war – where outwardly there is inaction, but inwardly fear looms large. Both parties hold back just out of the fear of the opponent. That is not real peace. Even if you crush your opponents, the peace that comes is short-lived and shadowed by the fear of when and by whom is retaliation. Only fools can sleep peacefully after hurting others.
The only way to truly dissolve hatred is through non-hatred – through tolerance, forgiveness, loving kindness and mutual understanding. Hatred is a disease – a contagious disease. It is fuelled by one’s pain and dissatisfaction. The ignorant mind soon finds someone as the cause of one’s pain and takes hateful retaliation. Due to inner weakness and the lack of clarity, confused energies pour out as hatred and violence. A turbulent mind thinks in confused ways and never finds a better way out.
The cure for this disease is the healing touch of forgiveness and kindness. Genuine bravery is not in succumbing to this contagious disease, but in wearing the armour of loving kindness and compassion. When there is non-hatred, there is clarity of mind and creative solutions emerge. When you respond to hatred with non-hatred, it is possible that enemies cool down too. Even if that is too idealistic to expect at all times, at least your mind remains more peaceful and creative, leading to other solutions.
Whenever we see genuine peace dawning in this world, it is always from building mutual trust and understanding, and never from hate campaigns. This is so, not only among individuals and families, but also among communities and nations.
Often people are fooled to believe that, ‘tit for tat’ approach to hatred works. Cunning politicians and religious leaders set ablaze the fire of hatred among their countrymen for their selfish gain. They turn their followers blind and furious for their own gains. They channelize support through causing rage against a section of community. They hold fast to power through massacre. When the primary identity of a community is its hatred towards another community, the former remains weak and it is very easy for its misleading leaders to manipulate them. Cunning dictators even lead nations to war, because in that rage, their own countrymen are weakened, remain confused and become more susceptible to authoritarian control. Nobody, even those dictators can taste the nectar of lasting peace in such a scenario.
In a civilised society, the voice of the messengers of peace will be heard louder than those of the hate speeches. People find inspiration in the messages of harmony, tolerance and love. Such societies enter a golden era of peace and progress. When the great emperor Ashoka realised the fault of war and gave up violence, Indian subcontinent entered a golden era. Neighbouring countries of Ashoka’s Mauryan Empire, entered into treaties with him for peaceful collaboration, mutual sharing and learning.
In contrast, when hate speeches and calls for persecution fill the air, when sectarian rage in the name of nation, religion, language, culture, etc blazes up, when call for secularism and nonviolence are mocked at, a nation invariably enters a dark age – of oppression, genocide, mistrust, unrest, and lack of creativity. We in India too entered such a dark age somewhere around 8 to 10th Century AD when people divided in the name of Gods and religion.
It is usual to hear the message of non-hatred from various quarters. The uniqueness of the Buddha’s message is that he did not leave it merely as a moral law, and made it practical for all. He showed ways to cultivate non-hatred — through listening, reflection and meditation. A large section of Buddhist literature by later Buddhist scholars is also dedicated to mind-training – ways in which we can train ourselves in desirable qualities.
In summary, the eternal truth (sanāthan dharma) as the Buddha saw it is that hatred can never be set right through hatred, but only through non-hatred. On a side note, this seems to be the first documented reference to the word sanāthan dharma in India, much before the use of this word in a religious context later.